Saudi police say they have arrested
six Muslim militants after Monday's raids on suspected terror cells in Mecca.
Saudi Arabia's interior minister says the police prevented a terrorist attack
against pilgrims to Mecca.
Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Nayef, said two of the alleged militants
involved in Monday's police raids in Mecca had surrendered, while the others,
one of them wounded, had been captured.
Asked if he thought the suspects were members of the al-Qaida network, the
prince said all eight, including the two who were killed in Monday's raids,
were "without any doubt" from the same organization.
Speaking to the state-controlled al-Riyadh newspaper, the prince said, "these
people are targeting the month of Ramadan, this is an evil aim." He told the
newspaper the suspects "wanted to make the entire country a place for terror,
without any exception, and even in the holiest place on earth where Saudis
and non-Saudis come to pray to God."
The Monday police raids in Mecca were the latest in a campaign by Saudi security
forces to rein in suspected Muslim militants, that began under U.S. pressure
after the September 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities. The campaign intensified
after May 12 suicide bombings against Western residential compounds in Riyadh.
Hundreds of suspected militants have been arrested in the campaign. Saudi authorities
have linked some of the arrested with al-Qaida.
The nationalities for those arrested in Monday's raid were not immediately
known, but suspected terrorists in similar security sweeps have not all been
Saudi citizens. Hala Mustapha, an expert in Muslim militancy at Egypt's Diplomatic
Institute, says those behind the terror could be from a wide range of places.
"Al-Qaida is a trans-national organization, so the members, the leaders of
this organization of al-Qaida do not belong to just one nationality, or one
state, but its a gathering from different nationalities," he said. On June
14, a police raid on a suspected terror cell in Mecca resulted in the death
of five al-Qaida suspects and two security agents. Militants arrested in that
raid included people from Chad and Egypt, Saudi authorities said at the time.